At the time, I had already obtained my bachelor’s degree from Shanghai International Studies University, but I didn’t have any formal knowledge of business, accounting, or finance. Having worked for a few years as a professional, I quickly realized that this deficiency would prevent me from getting promoted within a multinational company like TI, which values talent with comprehensive business knowledge.


There were various options available for professionals in my country who face this kind of educational dilemma, such as an MBA degree from a major Chinese university or various accounting and finance certifications. Out of the many choices, I selected the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) because it provided a very comprehensive system of knowledge in accounting, which is the language of business, as well as a fair amount of knowledge from other business disciplines, such as finance and economics. And as someone who worked for a multinational corporation, I felt the certification’s global perspective also made it a perfect choice to accelerate my career advancement.


There’s no such thing as beginner’s luck when learning accounting, and, for the first few months of my CMA studies, I barely made any progress. The difficulty started to ease after three months of hard work and dedication. I took Parts 1 and 2 of the CMA exam in 2016 and 2017, respectively, and passed them both. The learning process was challenging, but the outcome was astonishingly rewarding. After I passed the exams, I felt like I knew so much more about the world of business, and I gained confidence in interacting with different stakeholders within my company.


My journey hadn’t ended, however. In the process of preparing for the CMA, I developed a strong interest in accounting and finance. The more I learned about these subjects, the more I realized how much I didn’t know. Eventually, I made a life-changing decision to pursue an advanced degree in accounting from a major U.S. university. In 2018, I left China and enrolled at the University of Illinois for my master’s degree. I spent a wonderful year in Illinois and achieved considerable academic success. Compared to my international classmates who received their business degrees in their mother countries, I felt like I had an advantage in the program because my preparation for the CMA had already covered half of the material we studied. 


Through my studies at the University of Illinois, I also developed an interest in accounting research. Now I’m a Ph.D. student at Virginia Commonwealth University. I’m interested in managerial accounting research that utilizes experimental techniques to study people’s decision-making processes.


Though my CMA is pending until I gain sufficient work experience, my journey with the CMA and IMA® continues. IMA assists academia in conducting a variety of research projects that involve practicing accountants as participating subjects in these experiments. And I plan to introduce the CMA to my future students. The certification has brought me where I am today, and I’m glad that I chose to pursue it.

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